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Journal of Jedediah Smith: First Expedition to California

Leaving the Mojave and into the San Joaquin

My horses being once more collected I resumed my N W course for Two short days travel the low Mt still on my left and Barren plains on my right when I fell in with some indians who I suppose were runaways from some mission as they had some horses.  I ascertained by enquiry of them that there were some streams and lakes ahead. I engaged a guide to conduct me to them and after two days travel still continuing my N W direction I arrived at a Lake called by the Spaniards Too Larree or flag Lake.  I arrived at the Lake quite late and found the bank so muddy that it was impossible for my horses to get any water yet I was obliged to encamp. From what I could learn of the Indians the Spaniards had named it from report but be that as it may the name was quite appropriate. Too Larre Lake is about 12 miles in circumference and is in a fine Large valley which commences about 12 miles South of it. Coming into the valley from the South East I had passed over a range of hills which in their cours a little East of North appeared to increase in heighth.  On the declivity of these hills there was some Oak timber. I observed the trees had many holes made in their trunks in which an acorn was pressed so tight that it was difficult to get it out. By watching I found this to be the work of a bird of the woodpecker kind who takes this method to lay up his stock of provision for the winter. The bird is of a seal color and somewhat larger than the red head woodpecker. I called this bird the Provident woodpecker.  The following day in moving along the bank of the Lake I surprised some indians who immediately pushed out into the lake in canoes or rather rafts made of flag. My guide succeeded in getting them to return to the shore. One of them could talk some Spanish and I engaged him for a guide. I watered my horses and got some fish from the indians (who I observed had some horses stolen no doubt from the Spaniards) and moved on about 3 miles along the Lake and then up an inlet about 10 miles crossed over and encamped.  On this inlet was some timber Cotton wood and willow. where I crossed it was 8 or 10 yard wide rapid current a feet deep and comes from the East. Several Indians some of them having horses visited the encampment. The principal characters brought with them each a small sack of down and sprinkled me from head to foot. To this I submitted knowing it was a custom among them and wishing to avoid giving offence.  They told me of a river to the north that had an animal which I supposed from their description to be the Beaver although they had no name for the animal by which it was known to me. These indians call themselves Wa-ya-la-ma.  The indian that spoke spanish and the same I engaged at the flag Lake told me he would go on with me and my other guide returned. On the following day I moved Northwardly 15 miles across low hills which were spurs of the mountain on the East.  This mountain had been gradually increasing in elevation and had now attained a considerable heighth. The next day I moved nearly North West 30 miles over a level country the ground being so completely undermined by the paths of an animal like the Lizard that the horses were continually sinking in the Earth frequently up to the nees. I encamped on the bank of a Lake.  Since leaving the wa ya la ma the country has been dry and destitute of water and grass. I found water in but one place in the bed of a stream which was nearly dry.  East of my route at the foot of the Mt there was some timber and plenty of grass and water. The Lake on which I encamped was apparently large extending to the N W so far that the shore was not visible. But as I supposed it not more than 80 miles to the Ocean I did not think it of verry great extent. It appeared shallow from the number of Boggy Islands seen in many parts of it.

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